There are few books published today that pay homage to the artists and their works as they are contained in Catholic Churches throughout the world. Even more uncommon is one that combines reflections on art and beauty and their roles in defending Catholicism in the Counter-Reformation. Well, the work by Elizabeth Lev, How Catholic Art Saved the Faith: The Triumph of Beauty and Truth in Counter-Reformation Art accomplishes all these things.

Elizabeth Lev’s book explores the way the Catholic Church was saved through the efforts of artists and theologians to define the faith during the period of the Counter-Reformation, which was a period of religious upheaval and turmoil throughout the world. This book is a superlative work of scholarship investigating the many messages artists communicated to the Catholic faithful through their many works of spectacular art which was intended to uphold teachings of the Catholic faith on subjects such as the Eucharist, the Sacraments, Mary as the Mother of God and even the dignity of women during the Reformation.

Each chapter of the book utilizes significant works of art to explain Catholic teachings and elaborates on the individual artists that worked in conjunction with the Church to reaffirm the Church’s faith as polemicized through their artistic works.

This work by Elizabeth Lev is one that should be embraced by not only Catholic faithful but art historians, students and those that desire to comprehend the relationship between the notions of beauty and truth as they are reconciled to faith in the doctrinal principles of Catholicism. The book’s author provides artistic examples of great works of art in order to further advance one’s understanding of the artist’s great talents that communicated the Catholic faith during a time of religious upheaval after Martin Luther’s break with Rome.

This book is well written and is indicative of scholarship in redacting the relationship between beauty and truth in relationship to the Catholic Church and the preservation of religious principles after the start of the Reformation. Elizabeth Lev keenly and concisely invites the reader to explore the works of various artists and how their works preserved the Church and continued to communicate the Church’s message in a historical period when conventional methodologies of transmitting the faith were shattered by the events that gave rise to Protestant denominations after the inception of the Reformation.

Students, artists, historians and those who wish to explore the relationship the Church has with the arts should make this book a part of their personal collection of definitive books worth having. This work is clear, concise and an effective work that explains great works of art with a theological and sociological application that links these great works of art with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

The book is available from Sophia Institute Press, The cost is $14.99

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